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Marcela Eliana Acuña
vs.
Damaris Pinock Ortega

6 December 2003

Fight reviews by Women's Boxing Page
correspondent Ewan Whyte

 

Marcela Eliana Acuña

Damaris Pinock Ortega

Weights:

54.9 kg

55.3 kg

Ages: 

27

22

Born:

(Formosa) Argentina

Panama

Referee

Aníbal Andrade (Uruguay)

Approached after the press conference on Tuesday by a journalist wanting to know her first impressions of her young opponent, Marcela Acuña made an ominous observation. “Damaris is a little taller than me,” she began sweetly, “but I think I sense a certain fragility...”

By Damaris, she meant Damaris Pinock Ortega, the 22-year-old Panamanian the WIBA had elected to dispute with her the vacant world super-bantamweight title. Ortega came with a record of six wins (five of them by knockout), one rather controversial loss in Colombia against an opponent Acuña beat two years ago, and two draws — better, on the face of it, than Marcela’s twelve wins (six by knockout), four losses, and no draws, but then three of the Argentinean’s losses had come in world title fights and the other in her debut against Christy Martin.

Most worryingly, Ortega looked like a carbon copy of Alicia Ashley, against whom, in what was undoubtedly the low point of her career to date, Acuña had performed so ineffectually in her last world title fight back in June. That debacle, which had shocked most observers after her generally convincing performance in the first fight, had plunged the 27-year-old into a marasme of loathing and self-doubt. “Look at my face. Now look at hers!” she had shouted to journalists, who were as stunned as her by the first decision, and there was no doubt, viewed in those terms, which of them had had the worst of the encounter; but the second time, with the weight of a whole nation’s expectations on her shoulders and no one in Argentina expecting her to lose, she had been seized two minutes before going out with an anxiety she had never felt before —‘corpsing’ tennis players call it -— and the slick Jamaican had toyed with and tormented her for the full ten rounds.

By all accounts, at such moments Alicia Ashley is a beautiful sight: “Superlative! Magisterial!. A gazelle, whose movements at times become a symphony of coordination and harmony,” raved DyN. “Muhammad Ali in a skirt,” shouted someone from the back of the crowd during the fight. “A ballerina,” said another.  For Claudio Coronel of Boxeo-Boxing, she was a mixture of Houdini and D’Artagnan. “Her long arms extend swiftly like goads, that sting, and retract”. With a blinding pepper spray of blows from all angles penetrating her guard, Marcela, it seems, could do nothing. “Ashley was a hieroglyphic she had no idea how to decipher,” wrote DyN, whereas the Jamaican seemed to have prior knowledge of every move Acuña made. Totally unrecognizable, hamstrung, irresolute and lacking in variety, the Tigress was bitch-slapped into oblivion. To add insult to injury, her stylish opponent even out-hustled her in the clinches.


Marcela winces as Alicia Ashley splits her guard for the umpteenth time

In part, it was a tactical triumph. Instead of surrendering the initiative by running and relying solely on counter-punching as she had done in the first fight, Ashley consistently beat Acuña to the punch; and each time the Argentinean tried to respond with a salvo of her own, the Jamaican would be nowhere, like some guerrilla army that had just vanished into the bush. At ringside, sympathetic observers muttered bleakly about the damage the contemptuous drubbing she was receiving up there must be having on Acuña’s proud spirit. But afterwards, the worst thing for Marcela was the sense of having let everyone down. “People come up to you in the street and say ‘I cried for you’ or ‘I prayed for you that night’, and you just feel dreadful.” 

Alicia Ashley
Alicia Ashley with the WIBF belt
Acuña twice failed to take from her

Watching Ortega in the mini workout that followed the press conference on Tuesday, Acuña must have wondered whether fourth time out it would be the same old story, only worse: if at only 22 years of age Ortega had the beating of her, she would bar her way to the title for the rest of her career. “Ortega’s main strength,” Acuña told journalists, “is her speed of movement. We’re going to work the liver region and try to rob her of her legs, so she’ll have to stand and fight me in the open.”

Out of devilry, or perhaps just curious to see how she’d respond, one journalist asked Acuña what similarities she saw between Ortega and Ashley, but Marcela took the question blithely in her stride: “They are similar in terms of physique, though Ashley was a southpaw and the Panamanian is right-handed.” adding, by way of afterthought: “This girl moves well, whereas Alicia was spectacular.” So were the ghosts of June finally buried? Would they see the serene, supremely confident Tigress of old? Or was she dead without knowing it? Saturday seemed a long time to wait to find out.

Ortega, for her part, charmed everyone at the press conference with her patience and her tact. Women boxers, for some reason, seem more intelligent than their male counterparts. Ashley was a computer systems support technician (with some bank on Wall Street, if I remember rightly) and this one’s a student of law and political science. When Acuña stated that “on Saturday I aim to fulfil two dreams: becoming world champion and fighting at Luna Park”, Ortega replied calmly that she, too, had long dreamed of winning the world championship, surprising her Argentinean audience by adding: “I know all about Luna Park. I’ve always loved watching boxing. My favourite was a programme on Panamanian TV called ‘Lo Mejor’. They used to show old fights from the 70s and 80s and much of the material came from Luna Park. To be here is an honour.” (“So they know about our stadium in Panama???”, mused the chuffed Porteños.) And though tired after a long flight, she posed patiently and with good humour for the photographers. It didn’t hurt, either, that she looked like a million dollars.

Before the fight, journalists were predicting a clash of styles between Acuña, a fighter who likes to come forward, and Pinock Ortega, who, they told us confidently, was ‘a stylist of the Panamanian school’, but Ortega herself refused to be stereotyped. “I don’t have a fixed style,” she insisted. “I adapt to my opponent. I can fight or I can box.”

Against Acuña, she could do neither..

“THE TIGRESS DEMOLISHES ORTEGA TO WIN THE WORLD SUPER-BANTAMWEIGHT TITLE” trumpeted the local paper this morning in Marcela’s home town. “FORMOSA HAS ITS OWN WORLD CHAMPION!”

And for the other journals, too, it was the same story: the Panamanian had been unceremoniously crushed. As though the presence of her two sons, who had escorted her to the ring, had inspired her, or the memory of the late Tito Lectoure, who created the legend of Luna Park and had given Acuña his blessing to enter its hallowed portals shortly before he died, had filled her with numinous fire, the Tigress unleashed an onslaught on her startled opponent from the opening bell at a level of intensity and commitment she couldn’t possibly have sustained for more than a couple of rounds, and the young Panamanian was simply overwhelmed.

“You raise children using psychology,” Acuña had told journalists earlier in the week. “And in the ring, you dominate your opponents in exactly the same way.” Just to live with this assault, which became less frenetic but no kinder in the following rounds, took tremendous courage, but by the fifth, in the view of Sports Ya!, the young Panamanian was broken, and it was a miracle she managed to hang on for another round.

There was a difference of opinion amongst journalists as to which was doing the real damage, Acuña’s remorseless body attack or her formidable right hand. “The Tigress seemed to be filled with fury,” wrote Eduardo Bejuk for Olé. “She harassed the Panamanian without let-up, giving her no respite to breathe and unleashing a continuous barrage of body shots in the belief that sooner or later her young opponent would succumb to exhaustion.” In the view of Clarín, it was Acuña’s right hand that was doing the real damage. “With it, she destroyed the resistance of the Panamanian bit by bit,” agreed DyN. “The Tigress won because she did what she said she’d do, cutting off her opponent’s avenues of escape and denying her the possibility of lateral movement.

“In the first round, she signalled the direction of the fight with three hard shots that hit Ortega full in the face (“one more would have finished her,” commented Olé) and from then on, the fight became a monologue.” The Panamanian needed tremendous guts to survive the round, but according to La Mañana, the writing was already on the wall. “(Ortega) never really recovered from the volley of clean hits she took in the first round. Almost at once she lost her line, and it was clear that she was not going to make it through to the end. Acuña was consistently successful in overcoming the Panamanian’s reach advantage  and finding Ortega’s face with her hands, and it was this,” concluded the wire service DyN, “that decided the fight.”

Responding to husband and trainer Ramón Chaparro’s directive to ‘take her out’ in the fourth, Acuña caught the Panamanian with a devastating right cross that doubled her over and split her lip; only by clinging desperately to the Argentinean was Ortega able to avoid going to the canvas, and indeed the two of them came close to falling in an untidy heap. Even forty seconds later, as she returned to her corner, the Panamanian’s legs were still wobbling.

In the fifth, she took a merciless beating. Acuña was relentless but (as Clarín put it) ‘serene’, giving her opponent no chance to recover, reflecting, calculating, combining looping shots with straight shots and jabs to the face with stabbing hooks to the body, knowing now that it was only a matter of minutes before the title, finally, would be hers.

 The fight is over!

The ordeal is over, and with it the dream.
Referee Aníbal Andrade stops the fight

Whether it was Marcela’s right hand that had left her dazed (as DyN concluded), or the cumulative effect of the body shots that had drained the fight out of her, Ortega’s challenge collapsed altogether in the sixth. With the Tigress unloading on her at will, ("the final minutes," wrote DyN, "were a real Calvary for Ortega") and next to nothing coming back, referee Aníbal Andrade of Uruguay decided it was pointless to allow the game Panamanian’s suffering to continue and stopped the fight — a decision Bejuk, writing in Ole, described as ‘compassionate and ‘just’.

In the view of Juan E. Brignone of Boxeo.org, Ortega’s corner could have spared her a lot of senseless agony by throwing in the towel a couple of rounds earlier.

Other Marcela Acuña Links


 

 
  Page last updated: Monday, June 14, 2004  
     
     
     
 

Fight Reviews compiled and translated by Ewan Whyte

 
     

 

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